Why We are Putting Disability Confidence at the Forefront of Our Business

5 min read

In this guest blog post, Melanie Forbes, CEO at Guidant Group, sheds light on the stigma attached to hiring disabled talent and how to decrease the disability employment gap in UK businesses.

When you think of diversity and inclusion, disability might not be the first thing that comes to mind. However, hiring disabled talent is in everyone’s interest and if it’s not already on your radar, please, please keep reading!

 

Disabled talent matters

From an HR perspective, disabled talent is a highly skilled, under-represented group and tapping into it doesn’t just have a positive impact on your company’s bottom line – it also genuinely changes lives.

There are currently around 12 million people in the UK who consider themselves to have a disability. In fact, as many as one in three people in employment over the age of 45 identify as disabled and 83% of people acquire their disability during their working lives. 

 

The disability employment gap

Unfortunately there is also still a huge gap between the employment rate of disabled people and the rest of the population. According to the latest official statistics, just 47 per cent of people with disabilities of working age were in employment between October and December 2015. Among non-disabled people, this figure stood at 80 per cent. In recognition of this, the government has pledged to get 1.2 million more disabled people into work by 2020. Disabled talent is a highly skilled, under-represented group and tapping into it doesn’t just have a positive impact on your company’s bottom line – it also genuinely changes lives.

 

Lending our support

Having been in the recruitment industry for over 25 years and outsourcing for the past 15 years, I have heard many clients say that supply partners do not put forward disabled talent. When I speak to our supply partners they tell me that even if they did, our clients would not hire them. Somewhere in the middle of this I believe lies the truth.

In order to achieve the government’s target, I believe we need a monumental shift in approach whereby recruiters and employers start to work in synergy to increase the inclusion of disabled people. 

As CEO of Guidant Group, I’m very proud that we have already taken a proactive approach to promoting disability confidence both within our own organisation and within the wider recruitment sector. Here are just a few of the things we’ve done so far. We need a monumental shift in approach whereby recruiters and employers start to work in synergy to increase the inclusion of disabled people.

 

Our approach 

We achieved ‘Proud to be Clear Assured’ status in December 2015, which is a nationally recognised standard in inclusive recruitment. This programme has provided a framework to help us identify and remove barriers for disabled people and educate our team. 

All of our employees undertake a series of e-learning modules about disability inclusion. We keep disability confidence at the forefront of all our recruitment activity through several initiatives, such as easy access to our library of resources (for example, our Reasonable Adjustments guide), and ensuring our continued promotion of disability inclusion is visible within the business. 

Employee training and development has served not only to improve our team’s knowledge and confidence regarding disability, but to facilitate a cultural shift in our organisation. We monitor the success of our disability inclusion process primarily through surveys of all our employees. These measure the workforce identifying as disabled (which is currently 7%) and invite feedback on the way we accommodate disability within our business. Knowing that they work for a company committed to making a difference, our employees are confident in initiating conversations about disability and comfortable about approaching our ‘disability champions’ (appointed subject matter experts in disability) whenever they require support. Knowing that they work for a company committed to making a difference, our employees are confident in initiating conversations about disability.

We also support our clients and suppliers with their disability inclusion process. Not just because it unlocks a diverse and previously untapped talent pool. But because it is simply the right thing to do! The support we offer varies per client. It could be advising on reasonable adjustments, reporting on their workforce diversity, or attending their own diversity and inclusion forums to share best practice examples. 

 

Improving the candidate experience

When it comes to candidate experience, our recruiters know that one size doesn’t fit all. That’s why our candidate charter focuses on open, honest communication and outlines exactly what every candidate can expect from us. Candidates are encouraged to talk to their recruiter about any reasonable adjustments or additional support they require during the recruitment process. This has enabled us to place disabled jobseekers with a diverse range of organisations, from Marks and Spencer and Diligenta to Hillingdon Borough Council and Eversheds. We were proud to become the first Disability Confident MSP/RPO provider earlier this year and have since run several workshops and events for our clients, suppliers and local employers.

 

Disability confident 

We were proud to become the first Disability Confident MSP/RPO provider earlier this year and have since run several workshops and events for our clients, suppliers and local employers. 

One of the biggest lessons from our disability confident journey is that small changes in approach can make a huge difference. Simply encouraging candidates and recruiters to talk about disability and what reasonable adjustments can be made is a great starting point! There is lots of guidance and support out there for employers. We just need to keep removing the barriers. 

 

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Connect with Melanie Forbes and Guidant Group on LinkedIn. Follow them on Twitter @GuidantGroupMD and @GuidantGroup. Visit their Facebook page

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